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Newbie buidling a desktop - $1200ish budget. Advice on my proposed build

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September 13, 2013 4:14:15 AM

Hi all

In the past (~10 years ago) I used to build desktops and then for a varitey of reasons I moved on to laptops. I now have a work laptop which is convenient enough for me to move around the house with if necessary, and would like to move over from a personal laptop to a personal desktop. I figure with the money I usually spend of laptops ($1000 - $1200) every 3 years I can build a good desktop that will last me longer. I'm not an avid gamer, but I do enjoy video games when I have time, and would like to build a rig that will allow me play the upcoming GTA V on ultra settings (I know it's not been announced, but it should be soon), as well as revisiting Skyrim + mods on Ultra settings.

I just bought an Antec 1100 computer case and am looking at buying the following as well:

Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 OC with Boost ($300)
Intel Core i5-4670K Processor and Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5H Z87 Motherboard Bundle ($400)
12 GB of RAM*
Samsung 840 Series 2.5 inch 120GB SATA SSD (already bought - $85)
Seagate Barracuda 2TB Serial ATA Hard Drive ($80)

All these total to be around $900, not including RAM, PSU, Cooling unit (if necessary), monitor and keyboard

I'll be purchasing a few more fans for the computer case (comes with 2 but I can add a bunch more) but I have a few questions:

1. I've not set in stone on Video Card and Processor/MB combo so am open to advice to get a better bang for my buck. Ideally I'd like to keep me graphics card viable for the next few years (I don't need to play newer games on super high settings).

2. I set my budget to be around $1200 but can go a bit higher if it's worth it. The items above will run me around $900, and the additional items will probably be another $300-400 easily, so in my head I'm already willing to go to $1300. I can also get a decent monitor from a friend for now so that doesn't need to be part of my budget.

3. Regarding PSU - what would be a good unit for my needs? I may or not be overclocking. The above card comes overclocked and I have 0 experience in overclocking. I remember back in the day it was more dangerous and easy to damage your hardware, while today you can overclock with zero risk provided you aren't completely incompetent. That being the case, I may try and overclock.

4. RAM - could anyone recommend what kind of RAM I should get? Looking to get 12 GB (maybe 16, but that seems overkill)

5. Cooling unti - How necessary is a cooling unit? Haven't really kept up to date due to having laptops for the past 10 years; liquid cooling sounds cool and efficient. If necessary, can anyone recommend some good ones? Would having the default fans be enough? I live in a hot country if this makes a difference.

6. Motherboards - I am completely lost as to what to get - I am veering towards an intel processor due to them being better than AMD (from what I've read - not stating fact here), but I have no idea what to look for in motherboards. Hell, even 10 years ago motherboards were something I didn't understand


Any feedback would be greatly appreciated it - I've been looking up parts for the past few days, reading reviews and comparisons and I'm remembering how much fun this used to be :)  I'm flying to the US in a few days and would like to buy all my parts there as where I am from there is a 30-40% markup.


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September 13, 2013 4:48:51 AM
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1. Generally looks good. You could perhaps go for a cheaper motherboard, like the UD3H instead of the UD5H.

3. Assuming you'll only be using one graphics card, around 550-600W is sufficient. Then it's just a matter of finding a quality PSU with the features you want - one is modularity (the ability to remove PSU cables you don't need, to cut down on clutter) and the other is efficiency (can save some electricity, and a more efficient PSU also needs less cooling and thus may be quieter).
The XFX Core Edition 550W is a good, cheap option if you just want standard efficiency (80 Plus Bronze) and not modular.
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/xfx-power-supply-p1550sxxb...
If you want modular but don't need higher efficiency, the 650W modular version is a good bet.
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/xfx-power-supply-p1650xxxb...
If you want an efficient but not modular PSU, the Seasonic SSP-550RT looks good.
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/seasonic-power-supply-ssp5...
And for a bit of both, there's the Seasonic G550.
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/seasonic-power-supply-ssr5...

4. Go for 8 or 16 GB. 12 GB is awkward in a dual channel configuration.
This 8 GB G.Skill Sniper DDR3-1866 CL9 is a good option.
http://pcpartpicker.com/part/gskill-memory-f314900cl9d8...

5. Need a better CPU cooler for overclocking, otherwise the stock cooler is fine. Water cooling isn't worth it unless you want very high-end cooling for serious overclocking, and are prepared to pay the price. I'd recommend the affordable Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo air cooler, or the Noctua NH-D14 for an air cooler that outperforms most low-end water cooling kits that cost the same or more.
!